We dove deep into the numbers and determined the best U.S. cities for fitness trainers to work in.
Every January, throngs of people, old and new, hit the gym to make good on that invigorating and aspirational promise: New Year, new me. Most people carry fairly uncertain expectations walking into that gym on New Year’s, but fitness trainers know there’s nothing more certain than the fact that their work schedule is about to get packed.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the expected job growth outlook for fitness trainers and aerobic instructors will only increase as the obesity epidemic continues to worsen and the population gets older. In 2018, the total number of jobs for fitness trainers came in at 308,470. This number is expected to grow by an astounding 13% over the next ten years.
What are the best cities to work in for current and aspiring fitness trainers looking for job opportunities then? Here at AdvisorSmith, we conducted a study on 312 U.S. cities and narrowed the list down to 50. The rankings were determined by several key factors, including average annual salary, cost of living, and location quotient, and we also categorized each city into small, medium, or large-sized based on metro area population.
Top Cities for Fitness Trainers by City Size
Twenty-eight of the top 50 and eight of the top ten best cities for fitness trainers are small or mid-sized cities, but the small town atmosphere may not appeal to everyone. In order to provide equal representation for a variety of lifestyle desires, we categorized cities into different sizes based on their metro area population. Below are the ten best small-sized cities (population less than 150,000), medium-sized cities (population between 150,000 and 500,000), and large-sized cities (population greater than 500,000) for fitness trainers.
Best Cities for Fitness Trainers
1. Sebring, FL
We determined Sebring, Florida, to be the best city for fitness trainers in the United States. Sebring is a small city with a metro area population of 102,883 people and a median age of 50.3 years. The largest industry in Sebring is Health Care & Social Assistance, so with the aging population, fitness trainers are in high demand, particularly as baby boomers seek to maintain their health and stay fit going into old age. Nicknamed “The City on the Circle,” Sebring is the county seat of Highlands County and the principal city of the Sebring metropolitan statistical area.
The average annual salary for fitness trainers in Sebring is $50,280, which stands 13% higher than the average annual salary for fitness trainers across the country. Sebring also boasts 51% more jobs for fitness trainers than the average U.S. city and has a cost of living that is 14% below the national average.
2. Ithaca, NY
Ithaca, New York, is the second-best city for fitness trainers in the country. Home to Ithaca College and Cornell University, an Ivy League school, and located 223 miles northwest of New York City, the Ithaca metro area has a median age of 30.4 years and a median household income of $56,200. This small-sized city is known for its “college town” atmosphere, with the student population topping 30,000 during the school year. With such an overwhelming college student presence in the area, it’s no wonder fitness trainers and aerobic instructors can find plenty of work.
With an average annual salary of $60,730, Ithaca pays fitness trainers the fourth-highest salary among all cities in our study. There are 40% more jobs for fitness trainers in Ithaca compared to the average U.S. city, and the cost of living is just 4% higher than the national average.
3. Charlottesville, VA
Charlottesville, Virginia, is the top mid-sized city for fitness trainers in the United States. Home to the University of Virginia, it is the heart of the Charlottesville metropolitan area, which boasts a population of approximately 233,793 people. The three biggest industries in Charlottesville are Health Care & Social Assistance, Educational Services, and Retail Trade, and the three largest employers are the University of Virginia Medical Center, the City of Charlottesville, and the UVA Health Services Foundation. With a balanced mix of college students and an aging baby boomer population, Charlottesville is a great city for fitness trainers and aerobic instructors to find work.
Charlottesville boasts an unbelievable 203% more jobs for fitness trainers than in the average U.S. city, making it the city with the most number of available jobs for fitness trainers on a per-capita basis in our study. The average annual salary in Charlottesville is $46,790, 5% higher than the average.
4. Portland, ME
Portland, Maine is the best large-sized city for fitness trainers in the United States. As the principal city of the Greater Portland metropolitan area, Portland has a metro area population of 532,083, making it the most highly populated area in the state. It is home to the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England, and the three largest industries are Health Care & Social Assistance, Retail Trade, and Educational Services. With a low unemployment rate of 2.4% and a growing median household income, Portland has many exciting opportunities for fitness trainers looking to build their careers.
The average annual salary for fitness trainers in Portland, $58,120, is approximately 30% higher than the average annual fitness trainer salary in America. Coupled with a cost of living that is only 9% higher than the average, it’s easy to see that salaries for fitness trainers and aerobic instructors go far in Portland. Portland also holds 33% more jobs for fitness trainers compared to the average American city.
5. Rockford, IL
Rockford is the fifth-best city for fitness trainers in the country. Located approximately 90 miles west of Chicago, Rockford has a metro area population of 338,291 and is the largest city in Illinois outside of the Chicago metropolitan area. The median age in the Rockford metropolitan area is 39.7 years old, and the median household income is $55,484. Health Care & Social Assistance is the second-largest industry, meaning fitness trainers should be able to find ample work opportunities alongside a thriving metro population.
The average annual salary for fitness trainers in Rockford is $45,400, which is only 2% higher than the national average for fitness trainers. However, the cost of living is 16% below the national average, and there are 17% more jobs for fitness trainers than in the average U.S. city. Rockford came in as the fourth most affordable U.S. city to live in for fitness trainers in our study.
Top 50 Cities for Fitness Trainers
Below are the top 50 cities for fitness trainers and aerobic instructors. In addition to rank, we include for each city its size, average annual salary, total number of available jobs, location quotient, and cost of living.
|Rank||City||City Size||Average Annual Salary||Total Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|7||St. George, UT||Midsize||$47,410||290||2.11||104|
|13||New Haven, CT||Large||$54,560||890||1.47||119|
|31||New York, NY||Large||$62,900||27,440||1.36||146|
|36||Yuba City, CA||Midsize||$44,390||170||1.78||114|
|40||Colorado Springs, CO||Large||$44,310||790||1.32||105|
|41||North Port, FL||Large||$38,340||1,300||2.07||108|
|44||South Bend, IN||Midsize||$36,680||320||1.11||84|
|49||Cedar Rapids, IA||Midsize||$39,600||350||1.17||93|
AdvisorSmith analyzed three key factors to determine the best cities for fitness trainers and aerobic instructors to pursue their careers in:
1. Average annual salary for fitness trainers
We gathered the average annual salary of fitness trainers in each city and ranked cities higher if they paid fitness trainers more. The annual average salary for fitness trainers in the U.S. in 2018 was $44,580.
2. Cost of living index for each city
We adjusted the average annual salary of each city against a national cost of living index in order to standardize the annual salaries for comparison. Cities with a lower cost of living were ranked higher.
3. Density of jobs for fitness trainers in each city
We utilized a location quotient to determine the density of jobs for fitness trainers in each city. We calculated the location quotient by measuring the number of jobs for fitness trainers against the total number of available jobs in each city. Cities with a higher location quotient were ranked higher.
There were 308,470 jobs for fitness trainers and aerobic instructors in 2018, and employment for fitness trainers is expected to grow by 13% from 2018 to 2028. This is 1.6 times higher than the national job growth outlook for all occupations, which stands at 5%.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
 Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index